Cover Osteuropa 4-6/2005

In Osteuropa 4-6/2005

The fetters of victory
Russia's identity from the memory of the war

Lev Gudkov

Deutsche Fassung


Victory in the Great Patriotic War is the most important symbol of identification in Russia. It is the only positive source of support for Russian society’s self-awareness. In retrospect, the victory is seen to have legitimized the totalitarian Soviet regime. Memories of Stalinist repression fade, and public opinion has an increasingly positive view of Stalin. Even today, any reappraisal of the dark side of victory is taboo. The idea that Russians reveal their “national character” in times of war and emergency has become a norm of symbolic identity. The main function of memories of the war is the legitimation of the centralized and repressive social order. These memories have been incorporated into the general post-totalitarian traditionalization of culture and society under Putin.

(Osteuropa 4-6/2005, pp. 56–73)

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The fetters of victory